Friday, September 25, 2015

The Vision (9.25.15): Does Man Have "Free Will"?

It is sometimes wrongly said that those who hold to Reformed theology do not believe in man’s “free will.”  Indeed, noted RB pastor and theologian Walter Chantry has written an article titled the “Myth of Free Will.” The point is not that we reject that man has a will but we affirm the Biblical teaching that man’s will has been corrupted by the fall.  Thus, the title of the Reformer Martin Luther’s influential work on this topic is Of the Bondage of the Will. Man’s will might be renewed through regeneration, but it will not be fully restored till he reaches heaven.

Christian theologians have spoken of four “states” or conditions of man. Thus, the Scottish Puritan Thomas Boston titled his classic work Human Nature in Its Fourfold State, in which he described:  (1) Man in the State of Innocence (pre-fall man); (2) Man in the State of Nature (fallen man); (3) Man in the State of Grace (regenerate man); and (4) Man in the Eternal State (for the believer, glorified man).

In this year’s Keach Conference, hosted at CRBC this Saturday (September 26), we will hear four messages based on chapter nine of our Baptist Confession (1689), “Of Free Will”:

1. God hath endued the will of man with that natural liberty and power of acting upon choice, that it is neither forced, nor by any necessity of nature determined to do good or evil. (Matthew 17:12; James 1:14; Deuteronomy 30:19)

2. Man, in his state of innocency, had freedom and power to will and to do that which was good and well-pleasing to God, but yet was unstable, so that he might fall from it. (Ecclesiastes 7:29; Genesis 3:6)

3. Man, by his fall into a state of sin, hath wholly lost all ability of will to any spiritual good accompanying salvation; so as a natural man, being altogether averse from that good, and dead in sin, is not able by his own strength to convert himself, or to prepare himself thereunto. (Romans 5:6; Romans 8:7; Ephesians 2:1, 5; Titus 3:3-5; John 6:44)

4. When God converts a sinner, and translates him into the state of grace, he freeth him from his natural bondage under sin, and by his grace alone enables him freely to will and to do that which is spiritually good; yet so as that by reason of his remaining corruptions, he doth not perfectly, nor only will, that which is good, but doth also will that which is evil. (Colossians 1:13; John 8:36; Philippians 2:13; Romans 7:15, 18, 19, 21, 23)

5. This will of man is made perfectly and immutably free to good alone in the state of glory only. (Ephesians 4:13)

May this meeting serve to glorify God and to edify his saints.

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

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